European Year of Rail
Kick-off with Giorgio Tuti
On 29 March, the EU launched the European Year of Rail with a streaming event with many prominent participants. Giorgio Tuti, President of the Railway Section of the European Transport Workers' Federation (ETF), was invited to represent railway staff. His core message was clear: «2021 must also be the European Year of Railway Workers.»
Giorgio Tuti took part in the discussion block «Inclusive Means of Transport with Rich History and Attractive Career Opportunities» and gave the following three-minute introductory speech:
Thank you for inviting ETF to this important event. ETF is representing workers in all transport modes in 41 European countries, including 600.000 railway workers.
We highly welcome the decision to declare the year 2021 the European Year of Rail. Rail is highly relevant to overcome the climate crisis. But the railway sector has also shown its importance during the Covid 19 health crisis.
But the railway sector is nothing without the workers. We have almost 1 million railway workers within the European Union. They all contribute to make the railways run and they showed their strong commitment during the pandemic crisis.
Therefore, ETF believes that 2021 must also be the European Year of Railway Workers.
What does it mean?
First of all: We have to recognize and value rail workers and that is best done by providing good and attractive working conditions and a fair pay for all, by conducting a social dialogue at all levels.
We have a serious demographic problem in the rail sector. Within the next 10 years more than 40% will retire and when we are not able to attract young workers of all educational level, the railway sector will not be sustainable.
Already today – pre-Covid – we experienced situations, when services had to be cancelled because of lack of staff, traffic managers, locomotive drivers. Railway staff is suffering psycho-social problems due to permanent overtime, resulting in sick leave.
Furthermore, the rail sector has a gender problem. Only 21% of the workforce are women. When we are not able to attract women to the sector, the companies will not be able to realise its labour and skills needs for the future. Automation will not solve this problem.
What is to do? We need a social agenda for rail.
We need a strong social dialogue at all levels, we need collective bargaining also in new rail operators.
Digitalisation and automation must be based on an inclusive dialogue from the very beginning.
We have to ensure health&safety and operational safety by high qualification standards, a minimum duration of training for locomotive drivers and no lowering of the level of language requirements.
We need monitoring and enforcement of working and rest time of mobile staff also across the borders.
We have to stop business models that are based on out-sourcing and multiple sub-contracting.
We have to prevent social dumping in the rail sector and ensure that the same pay for the same work at the same place.
These are just some elements.
A successful rail sector needs committed workers. This we have to keep in mind when developing together the rail of the future.
Kick-off of the European Year of Rail 2021
The EU officially launched the European Year of Rail on 29 March 2021 with almost four hours of live streaming: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYw5WvME7GI&list=WL&index=5&t=790s
(Attention: The programme only starts at 19'41'', before that you only see a freeze frame).
The introductory speech by Giorgio Tuti starts in the Youtube recording at 2h37'30'', and his further speeches at the following times: 2h53’22’’ – 3h04’40’’ – 3h12’25’’.
Programme and participants of the event (PDF) under https://europa.eu/year-of-rail/system/files/2021-03/EUYEAROFRAIL%20Kick-off_Programme.pdf, for more information see https://europa.eu/year-of-rail/events/european-year-rail-launch-event_en.
The event was also attended – as an audience member – by Swiss Transport Minister Simonetta Sommaruga, as her department Uvek wrote in a media release (not available in English, but in German, french and Italian):